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Critical Appraisal of Epidemiological Studies and Clinical Trials$
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Mark Elwood

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198529552

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198529552.001.0001

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The diagnosis of causation

The diagnosis of causation

(p.323) Chapter 9 The diagnosis of causation
Critical Appraisal of Epidemiological Studies and Clinical Trials

J. Mark Elwood

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a scheme for assessing causal relationships in human health. The approach is that the diagnosis of causation depends on the consideration of both causal and non-causal explanations for the association seen. A reasoned judgement must be reached as to the likelihood of the association seen being produced by causality rather than by any other mechanism. The conclusion as to whether a particular association reflects causation is not a simple yes or no, but requires reasoned and probabilistic judgements.

Keywords:   cause and effect, causal relationships, human health, causal reasoning

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